If you’re planning a cultural autumn escape, Germany’s cosmopolitan capital will fulfil all your needs. We’ve teamed up with the travel app Seasonal Cities to show you the best of Berlin: from a secret art gallery to a three-hour dining experience…
Words by Paul Sullivan (Seasonal Cities)
Autumnal Berlin is colourful in both scenery and vibe. Residents make the most of the outdoors until temperatures truly sink. The famous (yet fickle) ‘golden October’ brings bright skies to gloriously offset the deepening hue of leaves.
November heralds single-digit temperatures, rain and lengthening nights. Your umbrella and scarf should be constant accessories, as should your fun-loving and open-minded spirit.
Spanning 90 hectares of scenic lakes, blooming meadows and many marked trails, this West Berlin park is ideal for an autumn day out. There’s a ‘witch garden’ (hexengarten), water playground and petting zoo for children and three café-restaurants to choose from. One is a beer garden set right next to a 19th-century Dutch windmill that still churns out loaves of bread at weekends.
Sangerhauser Weg 1, 12349 Berlin
Escape bad weather at a private art gallery hidden in an above-ground concrete bunker. Once housing up to 4,000 souls during WWII’s bombing of Berlin, the architecturally fascinating structure opened publicly in 2008 to present Karen and Christian Boros’ personal contemporary art collection. Stellar artists include Ai Wei Wei, Alicja Kwade, Danh V? and Wolfgang Tillmans. Access is by pre-booked guided tour, from Thursday to Sunday.
+49 30 2408 33300
Reinhardtstrasse 20, 10117 Berlin – Mitte
Books and magazines
Do You Read Me?
Take shelter and discover reading matter for long lunches at this cosy, L-shaped book and magazine specialist. Through the window onto a tree-filled courtyard you can monitor outside conditions while perusing copious international and local publications covering art, design, literature, travel and philosophy. With such an inspiring range of well-known and obscure mags (in English), you won’t be hurrying to leave, even if the sun is shining.
Favourite item: Cereal travel and lifestyle magazine (approximately £12) is the perfect companion on a rainy day.
+49 30 6954 9695
Auguststrasse 28, 10117 Berlin – Mitte
Effortlessly combining a café, florist and general design and furniture store, this newly opened space – set in an early 20th-century red-brick post office – is beautiful to look at from the outside as well as the inside. Sip a perfectly made flat white from Tom’s Kaffeerösterei and browse everything from lamps and pocket flasks to chairs and tables from local company Nuts and Woods.
Favourite item: the Brandenburger Tor Brush (see main image) is quite the novelty gift, for about £14.
Tempelhofer Ufer 1, 10961 Berlin
Mogg & Melzer
Stellar New York deli fare is served within this light and airy space in a restored Jewish Girls School. Mingle with Berlin’s internationals over nourishing lunches in the sunlit room. Windows overlook stylish Auguststrasse’s gallery strip. Beloved by local foodies, standouts include the heaped pastrami on rye with sharp mustard, the legendary Reubens and the divine lentil and avocado sandwich with chipotle sauce.
Favourite table: five (seats four) for natural light, social observation and street views; two (seats six) for a communal eating experience; seven (seats four) for window views across the dining area.
Run by young, dynamic chef Dylan Watson, who made a name for himself with his Jung, Grün & Blau project, Ernst is his next ambitious restaurant venture. Maintaining his seasonal ‘locavore’ ethic and supported by a crew of highly professional young helpers, these three-hour, ever-changing dinner experiences are served up in a private and secluded location and can be paired with a wine or beer menu.
Favourite table: just getting any kind of seat here is a challenge since dinners are on Fridays and Saturdays only. Book well ahead.
Cafe am Neuen See
One of the most beloved beer gardens in the city, Cafe am Neuen See is tucked away in the leafy Tiergarten, located right next to the eponymous lake (Neuer See). A large outdoor area serves beer, pizza and pasta that can be enjoyed at the shared picnic tables under the chestnut and lime trees. Afterwards, you can hire a rowing boat and tour the lake.
Favourite drink: if you’re eating pizza outside then grab a lovely cold draft Pilsner. If you’re dining in the main restaurant they have a good selection of Rieslings.
+49 30 254 49 30
Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin
Vin Aqua Vin
This specialist wine bar has a laid-back, intimate charm. Simple wooden furnishings, comfy vintage chairs and leather loungers, a communal table and wine bottles lining the wall create a living-room feel. Expert staff recommend the perfect tipple, most likely from a small-production German winery. There’s outdoor seating on lively Weserstrasse for October sunshine and a fire inside that gets going on cold, dark nights.
Favourite drink: Michael Teschke Weingut 2011 Portugieser, a light but peppery red wine.
+49 30 940 52 886
Weserstrasse 204, 12047 Berlin – Neukölln
This relatively new Kreuzberg hotel, set in one of the oldest houses in Berlin (1822) and run by its owner, Alexander Schmidt-Vogel, offers an intimate, characterful experience. This includes colourful, imaginative rooms designed by Uwe van Afferden, great steaks and rare whiskies in the associated Brooklyn restaurant, as well as a decadent cigar lounge called Yada Yada.
Favourite room: the single rooms are small but the spacious suites on the upper floor come with a dining area and a bathtub as well as a shower.
+49 30 411 988 177
Köpenickerstrasse 92, 10179 Berlin
This architecturally beautiful design hotel sits in a secluded nook bordering the Tiergarten and overlooking the zoo, where the loudest noise is birdsong and the rustle of leaves. Relax in Patricia Urquiola’s creative interior, a marvellous design combo of warm, colourful textiles and whimsical elements, underpinned with signature copper features, vintage photography and innovative furnishings. In the Michelin-starred dining room, it’s all about the twenty-five course molecular cuisine.
Favourite room: 506 for Tiergarten views from the bathtub; 426 for private zoo views of antelopes and ostriches.
+49 30 311 7220
Drakestrasse 1, 10787 Berlin – Tiergarten
Seasonal Cities is a unique new iOS travel app with city guides that change with the seasons, are written by resident journalists and suggest the best places according to the realtime weather forecast. You can find out more and download the app to your iPhone 5 or 6 or iPad at www.seasonalcities.com or the App Store. Guides are just 79p per city per season.